World News

Man guilty in false imprisonment of Elie Wiesel

Guards search Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel during the second day of the fourth Petra Conference of Nobel Laureates June 19, 2008. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A San Francisco jury convicted a 24-year-old man on misdemeanour charges on Monday for pulling Elie Wiesel from a hotel elevator in an incident the Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel Peace Prize recipient thought was a kidnapping attempt.

The jury found Eric Hunt guilty of misdemeanour false imprisonment with a hate crime allegation, battery and elder abuse for yanking the 79-year-old Wiesel from a hotel elevator in February 2007, said defence lawyer John Runfola.

Runfola said the jury found Hunt not guilty on felony charges of attempted kidnapping, false imprisonment and stalking. Wiesel was not hurt in the incident.

Wiesel, well known for his memoir on the Holocaust, was 15 years old when his Jewish family was deported by the Nazis to the Auschwitz concentration camp. He lost his parents and younger sister in the Holocaust.

Hunt had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity after being extradited to San Francisco from a New Jersey mental institution, Runfola said.

“He’s been given medication and now he’s restored,” Runfola said, noting Hunt has a sentencing hearing August 13 and faces up to three years in prison.

Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for writing and speaking out against violence, repression and racism.